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Q1: Let me ask you a couple questions.
(1) I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
(2) When did you first start doing debate? And what is your first impression of debate?
---Well, I started debating my first year in high school. I went to school in a small town (population 20,000) but the debate team at my school was Ok (about 10 teams). We only traveled regionally. In America, there are two types of debate even in high school: National circuit and regional circuit. The National circuit has many, many big tournaments and all the best schools travel all around the country to debate. Most teams that do this are very good, but their programs must be very well funded (the US is very big so travel is expensive--you have to fly everywhere). My high school program was not large, nor did we have much money. So we traveled regionally and went to nearby national tournaments.
I joined the debate team because I had some friends that wanted to do it, and when I got started it was something I was good at and something I enjoyed. My first impression of debate was that the people in it were very cool (sugoi!).
Q2: I'm sure a lot of debaters will benefit from doing debate, but it is true that policy debate takes a lot of time and costs much. So, how do you/debaters keep your/their motivation to get involved in this activity?
---Competition was a big motivating factor for me--I always wanted to do well. But I also just enjoyed the company. The people on my team weren't just fellow debaters; they were also my best friends. I didn't mind spending all my weekends hanging out with them, even if it meant spending time in a library rather than at a bar.
Q3: Why did you decide to come to Japan? And how was Japan tour?
---The Japan tour was too much fun to put into words. I love Japan!!! I had been to Japan once before, and I really enjoyed my time there. I knew I wanted to return. When the opportunity to go there and debate came up, I was very excited. Not only could I see my Japanese friends, go to new places in Japan (on my first trip I was only really in Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto), and have fun, but I could also meet Japanese debaters! I was very interested to see what the debate activity was like in another country. The tour was an AMAZING experience. I have told all my friends to try out!
Q4: Did you carry around false image of Japan? ex. there are many samurai, and they fight against the enemy even now.
---As I had been here before, I sort of knew what Japan was like. I think Americans in general have some misconceptions of Japan (that are perpetuated by the Japanese tourist industry), but those that come to Japan always come away amazed. As someone who has lived in another country for a year and traveled a lot, I think that the more time you spend in a "foreign" country, the more similarities you recognize between the two places. I made many wonderful friends in 3 short weeks in Japan--the people cannot be that different!
Q5: Did you see any difference and similarity between American debate and Japanese debate? (ex. argumentation and community)
---Definitely. One of the primary differences is in the use of evidence. In Japan, evidence is often used to establish fact, and opposing teams rarely read evidence on exactly the same issue. In America, we are very skeptical of the evidence. Evidence rarely establishes fact, only probability. Oftentimes debaters will try to read many cards on one argument to try to make the point very strong (although this is sometimes inefficient) and one of the primary skills we try to teach is evidence comparison.
In terms of the community, I think there are many similarities. In America, because programs and tournaments are generally better funded, tournaments are often run at hotels. This makes it easier to socialize and get a sense of community not just with people on your own team, but on other teams as well. As teams are eliminated they often go sit together at the hotel bar and share their debate stories. It is a lot of fun.
This goes on in Japan, too, though. I had so much fun sitting and talking with debaters at tournaments, as well as at restaurants after debates! It seems debaters everywhere like to talk to each other.
Q6: What can you tell us about the impression of NAFA debate?
---I really enjoyed the NAFA debate. It was probably the event most like an American debate. The audience was very energetic and the debaters were very good. It was the most competitive (both in the debate and in terms of the opponents skill) of the debates we participated in, and we had to raise our skill level accordingly. Those of you who may have seen us debate more than once know that the NAFA debate was much faster and bigger (in terms of the arguments run) than any of our other debates.
Q7: How long do you prepare for this debate? I am really surprised at high-quality evidence which American debaters read (ex. evidence from New York Times and two pieces of evidence from LA times). How do you research on Article 9 within such a short term? Please tell us some knacks of research.
---We had about two weeks to prepare for the topics. In America, there are a number of research services (the most popular is called "lexis-nexis" that are searchable databases of the news. You have to subscribe to the service (but most universities or their debate teams already have subscriptions) and then research becomes very easy. You just type in key words and get articles. We did searches on "Japan and article 9," "koizumi and article 9,"etcetera. Then it is just a matter of reading the articles.
The internet has also become a primary source for debaters. Search engines like , , have huge English language resources that are good for debaters. Sometimes you have to go through many bad articles to find the good ones, though.
For this years Japan topic, you may want to find law schools (either attached to your university or the legal section of your library) as they may have many jury-related resources. On our campus we often ask professors with expertise in the topic area to recommend places to search for evidence.
Q8: How do you see the role or function of the 2nd negative? And how do you prepare for last rebuttal speech?
In America we often say the 2N is the hardest speaker position in debate. The 2N has to summarize the whole case against the negative, and that is often very hard. The 2NC is important in making the debate bigger. The 2NCshould try to take as many arguments as possible, but the 2NR is the opposite. The 2NR has to make good decisions. The only way to ensure you make good decisions is to have lots of prep time.
For me, the ideal 2NC would take no prep time. All the things the 2NC needs to do (extend disads or case arguments, etc.) can be prepared before the debate happens. Debaters should pick the best extension cards before the debate starts. Then, prior to the 2NR, you must choose the best arguments and exactly how to argue them. Try to write out as much as you can and make sure you can extend evidence by WARRANT (the argument in the card) and by cite (who wrote it, their qualifications, and when it was written). The 2NR must be a comparative speech, and a good 2NR will directly compare affirmative evidence and arguments with their own.
Q9: In Japan, some (most?) Judges take plan-spikes (plan amendments) presented in 2AC, if there is a feasibility/solvency (ex. plan shall delay to August in NAFA debate). Do you take plan-spikes presented in 2AC? Why or Why not?
---In America, those are almost universally not allowed. The 1AC is the basis for the debate, and the 1NC strategy is based upon it. If the 2AC is allowed to amend the plan, very few disads or counterplans could survive. Disads must be unique, which means they must be time dependant, and so an amendment to delay the plan (like the one in the NAFA debate) would take out almost any disadvantage. If the negative has won that the plan from the 1AC isn't good enough, shouldn't they win?
This issue gets to the issue of whether the affirmative is defending the plan or the resolution. In America, it is generally thought that the affirmative team has to defend the plan, not the resolution as a whole. The plan must be an example of the resolution. If the plan is the focus of the whole debate, allowing the affirmative to change it makes the first two speeches somewhat irrelevant.
Q10: You made some jokes during your speech. (I like it!) For example, in NAFA debate, you said that not unique 2NC number two: reform will fail, because Mr. Sato is, well, better at economics than I am. But I don't think he's better than a professor of economics at Reitaku University who said it would work. etc. Please tell us about the effect of joke in debate round?
---In debate, as in life, it is important to allow your personality to shine through. It is also important to make your audience (and your judge) like you. Humor is one way to do that. It makes the debate more enjoyable for everyone involved. We are debaters, and the issues we debate are important, but we are still in the activity to have FUN! That is a very important part of debate, and audiences and judges respond to people they like very positively.